Date of Award
Master of Science
Anthropogenic impacts to the environment are unavoidable currently; however, my research investigates a potential mitigation method for amphibians dealing with poor health outcomes caused by detrimental anthropogenic changes to their wetlands. Environmental stressors such as antibiotics leeching from manure of domesticated farm animals into local wetlands can cause a dysbiosis of the gastrointestinal bacterial flora within tadpoles. Dysbiosis of gastrointestinal bacteria during early tadpole development is associated with a decrease in development rate, decrease in body mass accumulation, and other poor health outcomes. I investigated if increasing the indigestible fiber (prebiotic) content in wood frog tadpole’s alfalfa based diet could return tadpoles with stripped microbiomes (dysbiotic gastrointestinal bacterial community composition) to the same phenotype of healthy control tadpoles. I also did a pilot study to see if diet could help in increasing survival post infection with Ranavirus, and from both studies, I created NGSS aligned curriculum and activities. I found that a 10% corn starch enriched alfalfa diet significantly increased the body mass accumulation and development rate of stripped tadpoles. I found there was an association with metabolism and gut dysbiosis. Unfortunately, the connection in regards to corticosterone release was unclear. There was an association with diet and survival, but it needs to be repeated with a larger sample size.
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